They had never met, lived on separate parts of the globe and one thought the other was dead.
But now sisters Jenny Beddoes, 69, and Frances Alman, 65, are getting to know each other after meeting for the first time in their lives.
Their incredible story reads like the plot of an unlikely novel.
But both Jenny and Frances are coming to terms with the reality that they have new-found family to enjoy.
Frances, from Sacramento in California, had been told half-sister Jenny Beddoes, from Bridgnorth, had died when she was a teenager.
But after researching her family tree Jenny, who was brought up in foster care, tracked down her American family and revealed the truth.
The pair have spent the last month together catching up on many lost years, after Frances agreed to fly to Britain when her sister told her she had recently lost her husband, Peter.
She said: “I knew I had a sister and we had the same father. When I was 14 I was at my grandparents’ house I came across a picture, which was Jenny sitting on her mother’s lap.
“I thought it was me at first but when I turned the picture round it said ‘Daphne and Jenny, 1946’. I was born in 1948.
“My grandmother told me the story of Jenny and how my father met an English woman called Daphne during the Second World War and they had a child together. My father, who was sent back to the States before I was born, was supposed to send for this child but he met my mother in America and washed his hands of his English family.
“My grandmother continued to write to Daphne until she was told Jenny had died when she was four.”
Frances said she received an email two years ago from a lady in England who was researching her family history, and who claimed they had the same father. She said: “Of course I didn’t believe it until I saw the email was signed ‘Jenny’ and her father’s name was Frank Rush. It was then everything hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked her what her biological mother was called and when she said Daphne, I had to call her.
“When she answered it was like she had come back from the dead. It was only because I saw that picture when I was 14 I believed Jenny was who she said she was.” Jenny was put up for adoption aged four and was brought up by foster parents after being put into care.
Frances, who worked as a nurse before retiring, said looking through old photos had shown the half-sisters had very similar traits when growing up. “We realised we had the same haircuts, we both wore scarves and we both loved painting.”